Monday 26 October 2015

Dirt Racer (SNES review)

Developer: MotiveTime Ltd
Publisher: Elite Systems Ltd
Released: 1995

Dirt Racer is a rally game that was only released in Europe and it's powered by the Super FX GSU-1 chip.

In League mode there's three Divisions that consist of nine tracks each; to win you'll need to beat one CPU racer per match in an attempt to top the overall leaderboard. Cup mode consists of a knockout tournament across 16 matches so if you lose a race you're eliminated. Across both modes you're only allowed to crash and explode nine times per race otherwise you'll be disqualified. The first thing you'll notice is that the pop-in is so severe that it's almost impossible to know when a corner is coming up as you're given no time to react; even worse, there's no display to show where you are on the track and the game rarely boasts visual cornering clues until it's too late. As a result you end up crashing many times or driving around aimlessly trying to figure out where you're actually supposed to go! The controls are incredibly sensitive as all three vehicles have no weight to them and tend to spin out despite only light taps on the d-pad. The frame-rate is also very choppy which makes for some unresponsive controls and frequent over-steer. Once you try to pick up speed again it takes forever to get going and within seconds you'll hit a randomly placed rock, crash into the scenery which appears from nowhere or be blindsided by the overly aggressive CPU opponents who belong in a Destruction Derby game! The tracks are very similar to each other with boring scenery, pixelated textures, dull colours and no distinctive features. The music has some decent instrument samples (especially the drums) but overall the songs sound like a budget Commodore Amiga platformer.

Dirt Racer is a barely playable mess and it's almost as if Elite Systems released an alpha version without even bothering with the testing process. The result is a racing game that's utterly laughable and you're better off sticking to the more polished Stunt Race FX instead (1994, SNES).

Random trivia: MotiveTime Ltd developed two other Super Nintendo games, Dragon's Lair (1993) and The Adventures of Dr. Franken (1993).

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